We've all spent too much money on something we really wanted.
But imagine if every time you went shopping, there was only one of the specific item you were shopping for. And you were bidding against 30 other shoppers with just as much money as you.
Such is life for the NBA General Manager.
Every GM knows that LeBron James and Dwyane Wade officially go on the market on July 1st. Those two are the big ticket items. Huge contract guys, no question. GMs are ready and willing to break the bank for them, and with good cause. They're both excellent, multidimensional players who are still in their respective primes. They both know how to win in the post-season. They both sell tickets.
Most experts agree that James and Wade will test the waters, solicit some wooing, and then go running back to their current situations to sign max deals at home. They'll also set the market price in the process.
So then you've got a second-tier group of guys like Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Bosh, Amar�e Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, David Lee and Joe Johnson. They probably shouldn't be max contract guys but because of the seller's climate mentioned above, it'll take near max money to get them. (Sorry, Dallas fans, but Dirk does not belong in the conversation with LBJ and Wade, he just doesn't.)
It's this second group that will get GMs fired. These 'next best thing' players will have pretty good regular seasons and then get ousted by the league's best players in the playoffs, just like they always do. It happens every season. The GMs know this, too; they know they shouldn't spend max money on these dudes. But they will, anyway. And then they'll get fired for it within three years. Bet.
Look around the league and you'll notice that non-playoff teams are usually paying their highest salaries to guys that aren't proven winners. For instance...
Nets- Bobby Simmons $10,560,000
Knicks- Tracy McGrady $23,239,561
Sixers- Elton Brand $14,858,471
Pacers- Troy Murphy $11,047,619
Wizards- Gilbert Arenas $16,192,080
Grizzlies- Zach Randolph $16,000,000
Hornets- Peja Stojakovic $14,202,000
Wolves- Al Jefferson $12,000,000
Warriors- Monta Ellis $11,000,000
Clippers- Baron Davis $12,150,000
Kings- Larry Hughes $13,655,268
Most of these disappointing and expensive players are no longer with the team that signed him to these bloated contracts in the first place. Now they're just valuable trade chips, expiring contracts, whatever. My point is that your highest paid player needs to be dominant. High paid guys who aren't legit MVP candidates absolutely kill a team. Yet GMs keep paying top dollar for them, anyway.
So why does this keep happening?
Well, GMs can't come home from the shopping spree empty-handed. Fans want them to spend that money to stay competitive, whether it's on the ideal player or not. The Marketing Department needs a new face to put on the billboards. Season tickets need to be sold. So most of these GMs prefer to make a dumb decision instead of no decision at all.
In a couple weeks, two lucky teams will get their money's worth and sign James and Wade. Everyone else will bid against each other for the right to overspend. Good luck, suckers!
Pictured: 23 Million Dollar Man